I thought I was going to play for Arsenal – but I ended up making transfer to Tottenham

O'Hara and Fabregas battle for the ball
Jamie O'hara has opened up about trading Arsenal for Spurs as a teenager -Credit:Getty Images

Jamie O'Hara has opened up about joining Tottenham despite being on the brink of an Arsenal breakthrough.

Reflecting on his early career, the former midfielder, who is now 37, reminisced about his time in Arsenal's academy where he was tipped for stardom. However, a disagreement with then-Gunners academy director Liam Brady led to a switch to Spurs, the club he had supported as a child.

Speaking candidly on the Ben Heath Podcast, O'Hara said: "I was the best player [at Arsenal]," and "I believed I was going to play for them. They were the best side with the best academy. Arsenal loved me, I was the one everywhere was talking about who was coming through and was going to be [their next star]."

O'Hara's journey took a turn when he turned 17 and was offered a professional contract by Arsenal. But after Brady told him he wouldn't break into the first team until he was 21, O'Hara felt it was time to move on, reports the Mirror. He explained: "I thought I was ready, I wasn't ready, but I didn't want to get held back... I didn't want to wait four years."

Once he hit free agency, top clubs including Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, and even Real Madrid came calling with trial offers. Despite this, O'Hara chose to sign with Tottenham, stating: "I was a Tottenham fan," and revealing the extent of his loyalty by adding, "I used to train at Arsenal in a Tottenham shirt."

"I never wanted to leave home, I lost my mum at 17 and she was going through cancer at the time, so Tottenham was the perfect opportunity. But the funny thing is, I went to Tottenham based on the fact I didn't want to wait until I was 21 to make my debut for Arsenal, but I didn't make my Tottenham debut until I was 21 (laughs)."

READ MORE: I called Arsenal’s bluff – then every team in the country wanted to sign me

READ MORE: Piers Morgan mocks Jamie O'Hara with brutal message as Arsenal run riot against Tottenham

O'Hara first entered the limelight during the 2007/08 season after a fruitful loan arrangement with Millwall. With Juande Ramos at the helm, O'Hara became a consistent player in the first-team, however, his position started to waiver just a year later when Harry Redknapp took charge.

Subsequently, O'Hara had familiar stints with Portsmouth and Wolves before officially signing with the latter in 2011. Unfortunately, his career hit turbulence soon after.

Following consecutive relegations with Wolves, he sauntered between clubs like Blackpool, Fulham and Gillingham before sliding into non-league football in 2016. Eclipsing his career prematurely, O'Hara decided to retire in 2020, only 33-years-old.